A small cube capable of taking hold of solar wind is to be Estonia's first-ever satellite
Sierra Nevada Corporation would almost certainly prefer that we not call its Dream Chaser lifting body spacecraft a "chubby mini-shuttle," but come on, that's kind of what it looks like, right? NASA has just poured $212 million into the vehicle, which launches on top of an Atlas V rocket and could be in space by 2015.
If you are starting to plan your summer vacation and you are a space nut then this is the map for you. You can easily see if one of NASA's retired spacecraft is located near where you'll be staying — or if you are totally hardcore — you can plan your location near where a spacecraft is housed.
It wasn't a Darwin Award alert, but serious science as NASA recently trialed a rocket sled in the California desert. Cameras were strapped on to the apparatus so we can feed our need for speed while NASA uses the sled to test the forces felt by supersonic spacecraft when landing.
The Voyager 1 space probe is currently about 11 billion miles from the sun. This is really, really far away: it's three or four times farther away from the sun than Pluto is. Astronomers have been expecting Voyager to to make the transition between our solar system and the rest of our galaxy, and it looks like that may have just happened.
In 2013, the European Space Agency will launch the Gaia spacecraft. Its billion-pixel imaging sensor will be among the largest digital cameras ever to exist, and over the course of its mission, it's estimated that Gaia will detect 15,000 new alien planets.
Voyager 1 was launched in 1977, which, if you're counting, is more than 33 years ago. During that time, it's flown past Jupiter and Saturn and nearly made it out of our solar system, but it's still feeling frisky enough to perform a series of acrobatic roll maneuvers. Not bad for a spacecraft that was new at the same time as the Atari 2600.
Last week we took a look at the massive interstellar probe designed by the Daedalus Project, and this week we'd like to explain in a bit more detail how this thing might actually be able to reach a nearby star in our lifetimes using near-term technology.
Chemical rockets operate on essentially the same technology that we've had since the 1930s, and it's dangerous, expensive, and very inefficient. It's high time for a better way of getting to space, and lasers might be the way to do it.
NASA says that life was delivered to Earth on a comet. The NASA Stardust spacecraft flew past Comet 81P/Wild 2 in 2004, collected dust samples on four tiny pieces of aluminum foil, and then returned them to Earth in 2006....